Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Never Say Never

You never miss what you've never had. Or do you?
Growing up I never missed having aunts, uncles, or cousins, because both my parents were only children. I never knew what I was missing.
Living the past 25 years outside the U.S. without a Starbucks close by has not been a sacrifice, because Starbucks didn’t even exist when I left, and besides, I almost never drink coffee.
Likewise I never knew of such things as memory foam and sleep number mattresses, so I’ve never missed them. We’ve never had anything larger than a full size bed, so it never feels like a sacrifice to not have a queen or king-size bed.
The things I grew up having, like automatic washing machines and clothes dryers, dishwashers, Kitchen Aid mixers, and all sorts of convenience foods at the grocery store – these I did miss.
Many years ago a pedicurist came on a short-term team, insisting that the delight of her week would be to give me a pedicure. “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news….” This was her obsession. Up until then I had never missed such luxuries, having never splurged on a pedicure in my life.
It was ticklish and embarrassing to have someone touch my grungy feet after years of wearing sandals year-round on dusty unpaved roads. I tried every way possible to postpone this “treat” – hoping she would just forget the whole thing. The last night, though, she would not be deterred, and I experienced my first pedicure.
Maybe some of you received your first (free!) pedicure at a Women of the Harvest Retreat, and you know what an amazing feeling it is to have your feet pampered. After that, I was hooked. I don’t actually pay for a pedicure very often, but I find myself wishing I could.
Thanks to the internet (Pinterest), visits to the U.S. every year or so, and talking to new missionaries and short-termers, I now know about many other things I have never experienced, and if I’m not careful I can begin to covet and crave things I have never even seen.
Then came Easter. Sunday morning I gathered with family and friends at sunrise, worshipping and remembering the Resurrection, and out of nowhere I got a blast of longing for something I have never seen except in tiny glimpses.
Do you ever find yourself feeling so homesick for your real home that it brings tears to your eyes? I’ve never seen heaven, but I sure do miss it.
My current must-read book is Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. I recommend it to each of you. It makes me strangely content with my life on earth, knowing there is much more to come. Any small sacrifices I make to serve the Lord now will be worth it in the end.
It’s always good to be reminded that this life is short, and eternity is long.
IRL* Sacrifice does not always feel rewarding, and it’s not always pleasant, but to quote an old favorite song, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Transformational Sweat

Since no one shot me down last week, I had planned to continue the mini-series on acceptable sins, thinking I would have the perfect post on either laziness or grumbling and complaining. It turns out, I have been strangely industrious and – miracle of all miracles – haven’t had any complaints yet!

This is Holy Week – slash - spring break for our teens, but instead of hanging out, sleeping in, and being lazy all week, we are helping some coworkers who are hosting a team from the U.S. Unlike the rugged teams we normally send to suffer in a remote mountain location, this group is staying in Puerto Escondido, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

While most people would jump at the opportunity to serve in such a beautiful place, I had to struggle get my heart straight before agreeing to come. Going to the beach, as I’ve mentioned before, is not my favorite thing. It requires a nasty long drive down a winding road up and down from 5000 feet down to sea level. And then being hot and sweaty is something I generally avoid like manual labor.

Considering the prospect of being in a non-air conditioned kitchen preparing dinner for 22 people, I imagined writing about a whole slew of other besetting sins. It turns out, however, that I have found great delight in doing this. The work the rest of the team (including my husband and kids) do each day is much more grueling than my going to market, shopping, disinfecting produce, chopping, cooking, and cleaning up.

Turns out I have the best job around – plus I get to sneak in an afternoon swim (while I pray, of course) before they get back. Plus we will eat in restaurants a couple of the seven nights, making my work even lighter. It’s as though God, knowing what a wimp I am, tests me to see if I am willing, and then He carries my load.

So we’ll gladly skip the post I thought I would have to write, and just praise the Lord that His mercies are new every morning, and that His grace is sufficient for all our needs. You know what? Even sweating isn’t such an awful plight to be dreaded. Joy has been my constant daily companion. I am so thankful I didn’t allow my flesh to talk me out of this opportunity.

Meanwhile our friends in Mali are going through terribly unsettling times following the coup last week, having had to evacuate before the borders closed on Sunday. There are few situations as dreaded or stressful than to be forced out of a country on short notice. My heart goes out to each of you who were affected, and especially your children leaving behind friends, pets, and toys that didn’t make the cut when the bags were quickly packed.

Sweating over a hot stove and being a servant is a privilege. Even if it were a struggle for me, I would not want to trivialize it in light of these serious times for so many of you. I have spent time each day interceding, not just for this work team, but also for each of you in your current struggles.

No one said this life was going to be easy, but I feel for those of you who are sweating these days of uncertainty. May you find comfort and encouragement as we anticipate Resurrection Sunday, as we keep busy at our tasks of reaching the lost before the coming of the Lord.

IRL*It's a privilege to serve up what He offers.


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